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Interview: BJ The Chicago Kid Discusses 'In My Mind,' His Personal Style and More

BJ The Chicago Kid talks to VIBE about his Motown debut. 

On his way to the top of the charts, BJ The Chicago Kid’s newly released album In My Mind is officially in-stores now. The Windy City crooner's traditional take on Soul/R&B combined with the modern flavor he brings is enough to take us back to a musical era that is yearned for across the board from fans. With features from Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, BIG K.R.I.T., and more, this body of work is destined to be remembered as one of 2016's best projects.

The Chicago-bred singer recently teamed up with Footaction to host a private listening session at Noble New York on February 25, 2016 where the New York City's tastemakers and influencers could heard the album from beginning to end. Dressed in a comfortable Nike Tech Fleece crew shirt, Woven pants, and a clean pair of Air Max 1's, BJ spoke to VIBE about his incredible LP and his love for the Footaction brand.

“The first time Footaction and I ever collaborated, I was a kid,” laughs BJ during his conversation with VIBE. “That’s where I got my school shoes, that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party."

BJ sat down with VIBE and openly discussed the composition of the album, the current state of Soul/R&B, his relationship status and more.

VIBE: You just dropped your official Motown debut In My Mind, which by the way is amazing. How has the response been so far?
BJ: I have had nothing but good responses -- thank God! We put our all into this album, and everybody involved in it. We pretty much created it in thirty days, so I slept in the studio for twenty-seven days out of the thirty (laughs). I literally put everything I had into this project. I just hoped and prayed that people would feel it , and they do so thank God! We’re all happy!

Talk to us about the features you have on the album. Specifically, Chance The Rapper, Big K.R.I.T., and Kendrick Lamar. How did you link up with them?
I’ve known Chance the rapper for some years now. I met himbefore the world began to know who he was… so I was able to understand Chance himself. He’s just an incredible creator outside and inside of music. Because we’re friends -- we don’t force the music. When it’s time we do it, and other times we enjoy the friendship.

Now, BIG K.R.I.T., 9th Wonder introduced us via the internet.

Through Twitter?
Yeah, through twitter! It pretty was incredible we had like two or three songs together before we met face to face. I met K.R.I.T. the first day I joined the “Kritically Acclaimed Tour” tour last year, and he is an incredible brother. The same guy he was online is the same guy he is in person.

Kendrick Lamar, I’ve known him for years, him, Top Dawg, Punch, Jay Rock, Ab Soul, School Boy Q - our relationship was there before the success, and I’m just happy to know them and learn from their success and help them celebrate the success as well.

So it seems like, the music came organically since you had these relationships beforehand.
Yeah, and I honestly I think your gift will always make room for you. So I trust in that and I rock out!

We've heard a lot of references about church and God throughout your career. And this album doesn't stray away from that. How much does your relationship with God influence your music today.
I definitely have a relationship with God for myself, and yes I grew up that way and I choose to keep the relationship that way. It’s real, that’s my balance. Sundays, I was in church and Monday through Friday I was with the knuckleheads having a little fun (laughs).

Now, lets talk about a woman’s worth!
Oh, my...

What inspired the track "Woman's World" -- especially being that your are in such a male dominated industry?
Knowing the truth… knowing that I was birthed from a woman, you were birthed from a woman, we were all birthed from women. Also, understanding that if a man is married, if home ain’t right, he ain’t happy and she ain’t happy. As a man, if you’re married your happiness is with her happiness, if she’s unhappy everything’s messed up. It’s a woman’s world for sure.

A lot of the tracks on the album cater to women, and you have a ton of sexy referenced. Is there a special lady in your life right now who influenced all of this music? Who is giving you all of this ammo?
(Laughs) Hahaha nah, I don’t right now at the moment, but I am a young man and I live, and I learn.

In other words ladies, BJ is single and the album is 'for you'?
It definitely is for you (laughs).

What are your hopes for the new generation of R&B as a whole? A lot of people think the authenticity of it is gone. How do you plan to keep this genre alive?
From myself to Fetty Wap, to Ty Dolla Sign, to Ro James, to Luke James, the list goes on; we’re all singing to hold up the flag of what’s real and people are rocking with it. It’s not as popular as it used to be but that’s why we’re here…to balance out the skill.

How did the collaboration between you and Footaction begin?
The first time me and Footaction ever collaborated, I was a kid (laughs). That’s where I got my school shoes; that’s where I got my kicks when I was actually able to earn my own money, so it was a part of growing up. It is an honor to now have them host my listening party. That’s love.

How does your style influence and contribute to your artistry?
Style is a big part of my life. I used to work in retail before I was an artist, a lot of people didn’t know that. I was so good at selling clothes and shoes and just the lifestyle, that I could tell what size someone was wearing just by looking at them (laughs).

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Madame Tussauds for VIBE

Exclusive: Aaliyah's Madame Tussauds Wax Figure Channels "Try Again" Era

Today (Aug. 21), the newest addition to Madame Tussauds family of icons makes its big debut. After much demand, a wax figure of Aaliyah, or “Babygirl” to long standing fans and music industry peers is now open to the public at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas. The figure, which many fans will agree is long overdue, comes nearly 18 years after her tragic passing.

According to Adam Morey, Studios Manager at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, discussions around the making of an Aaliyah figure began over a year and a half ago. Morey has played a role in establishing the set designs to accompany several of the other celebrity figures at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, but wanted to make sure this one was more about inspiration than flair. “This set, rather than being a recreation of any one particular Aaliyah moment, was instead designed with a message to her fans in mind,” he says. “It’s a message that hopefully reflects her everlasting legacy.”

The new statue plucks Aaliyah straight from a frame in her 2000 “Try Again” music video, where she dons her signature leather pants and metallic bra, belt and choker set (which is still a Halloween costume staple to this day).

“It was clear right away it would be the ‘Try Again’ look for our Aaliyah figure,” he says via email statement. “The look has the sexy, edgy, timeless vibe we try to imbue in the Las Vegas attraction within all our creative choices. Mining popular culture as only Madame Tussauds can, our desire to honor Aaliyah and the look in this way was only confirmed as we see today’s Hollywood stars like KeKe Palmer, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya, also paying homage by recreating their own favorite moments of the Princess of R&B.”

Aside from Morey, one of the critical voices in ensuring the accuracy of this endeavor was that of Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, who Morey says granted “unprecedented access” and helped guide the creative decisions for the figure.

“I was involved in the process from the inception of the project,” Haughton says via email statement. “The team at Madame Tussauds welcomed a collaborative effort in choosing the pose and look of my sister's figure. They made sure my mother and I were comfortable and supported through an amazing but understandably emotional process.”

Morey and the sculptors, painters and stylists in the museum’s Acton Studios in London, worked to make sure that all of the Haughton family’s requests for Aaliyah’s likeness were honored, right on down to her tattoos. “One thing we made sure to include was all of my sister's tattoos,” Haughton says. “They are all quite hidden because my sister chose strategic places for them due to her on-camera film work. We know how devout and knowledgeable her fans are and the great artists at Madame Tussauds have no limitations to their abilities when it comes to detail.”

Now, whenever guests make their way to the museum to see the statue, they’ll know it was crafted in love and in reverence of her legacy.

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One Killed In Shooting Involving Rapper Tee Grizzley

Tee Grizzley was involved in a shooting in Detroit that left one dead.

According to reports, his aunt/manager Jobina Brown was killed when the rapper's SUV was shot at. While it's currently unclear if the Scriptures MC was the target, he and the driver of the vehicle were unharmed.

Per TMZ, "The SUV had stopped and Tee Grizzley was getting out of the front passenger seat as the shooter approached on foot and pulled the trigger ... hitting Jobina in her left side. The driver of the SUV told cops he heard Jobina scream right before 3 to 4 shots were fired." The rapper reportedly stayed at the scene while the driver called police.

Ms. Brown was rushed to the hospital, however, could not be saved. She was 41 years old.

This is a developing story.

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Funk Flex Opens Up About JAY-Z, Jermaine Dupri And The NFL

Funk Flex is breaking his silence on the recent controversy involving JAY-Z and his recent involvement with the NFL.

Last week, it was announced that the Jigga Man would be partnering with the league to consult for halftime performance as its Live Music Entertainment Strategist. He also plans on helping them with social initiatives, and he recently became a part-owner of a team. This partnership raised eyebrows, as Jay was a vocal supporter of Colin Kaepernick, who has been allegedly blackballed for standing up (or kneeling) for social justice.

Even more surprising, reports swirled that Jermaine Dupri was offered the deal, but was told by Jay not to accept it. In an Instagram post, Funk Flex wrote that the Atlanta producer was certainly offered the deal.

"I just got off the phone with Jermaine Dupri!" the photo read. "He confirmed that when he was working with the NFL last year, he did get a call from JAY-Z asking him 'How deep are you in with the NFL?' expressing 'That might not be a good idea.'"

"My opinion is probably not what the people I have relationships want to hear but it’s bothering me so I need to discuss," he wrote in the caption. He started off by discussing his issues with Kaepernick accepting a settlement deal, because he hasn't been as "aggressive" on a social justice front (this point, however, could certainly be debunked, as Kaepernick recently announced a new social justice initiative in a new interview).

Later, Flex addresses Jay.

"We are never past kneeling," he continues, referencing Jay's comments about moving past the action towards a solution. "...Jayz In our world is our “Michael Jordan” decided by the people who respect/cherish his accomplishments. Watching that Commissioner’s body language and feeling his desperation to open the Season with the 'STRONGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN POSSIBLE WITH CREDIBILITY' was obvious!"

"If Jayz saw what we all saw in the press conference and feels working from the inside while being paid and receiving a 'stake' in a team is the answer and can spearhead social justice from the inside he is our HERO for life!!!!" he wrote. "BUT if he and the air personalities/social media influencers that Rocknation manages or wants to be managed by them have spun the 'believe in Jayz... give him a chance' campaign to line pockets... this will be remembered and NOT swept under the rug in a few months!"

Let us know your thoughts.

 

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This subject matter has been weighing on me for a sec... I’ve spoken to Jermaine, Fat Joe, Nessa, Pio and TT.... My opinion is probably not what the people I have relationships want to hear but it’s bothering me so I need to discuss... Colin has taken an incredible unselfish stand for bringing light to social injustice that will never be duplicated... and even though his settlement was under 10million for him and Eric (Which covered mostly lawyer fees) I’m not 1,000 percently ok that Colin excepted the deal because it feels that since the deal Colin hasn’t been as aggressive as he once was... I know I’ve been 1,000 percent better with Rocnation as of late so I hope I can be honest and continue our positive relationship... We are never past kneeling... the “fear of the Kneeling” is what pushed the NFL to get more aggressive with unlawful tactics (hence is why they settled with Colin) To dismiss his efforts in front of the NFL Commissioner (the one who spearheaded the Colin corruption was an extreme slap in the face!) Jayz In our world is our “Michael Jordan” decided by the people who respect/cherish his accomplishments. Watching that Commissioner’s body language and feeling his desperation to open the Season with the “STRONGEST AFRICAN AMERICAN POSSIBLE WITH CREDIBILITY” was obvious! If Jayz saw what we all saw in the press conference and feels working from the inside while being paid and receiving a “stake” in a team is the answer and can spearhead social justice from the inside he is our HERO for life!!!! BUT if he and the air personalities/social media influencers that Rocknation manages or wants to be managed by them have spun the “believe in Jayz... give him a chance” campaign to line pockets... this will be remembered and NOT swept under the rug in a few months! TRUST! Time will tell!#JustMyOpinion

A post shared by FunkFlex (@funkflex) on Aug 19, 2019 at 2:00am PDT

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